Thanks to Freyr for the above title. We too often forget that Christianity was forged in the Middle East, with vibrant Sees established during the Apostolic period. We forget that Egypt - the Copts are the indigenous peoples of Egypt (now, no longer legally Egyptian citizens) - was once a Christian nation. Lebanon too, mentioned so many times in the Sacred Scriptures: another part of the Christian heartland. This beautiful nation too, reduced to poverty, oppression, bigotry and a life of fear due to the continuous expansion of Islamism. Pope Benedict will be visiting Lebanon shortly. Please pray for him.
Lovely Syria, now caught between an oppressive regime and Islamist rebels (this latter band of terrorists backed by the Saudis/Kuwaitis and winked at by the US et al.) will further lead to difficult times for the Christian community. Witness what "liberation" accomplished for Iraq (another Christian heartland). From a Christian community of well over 20% a mere 80 years ago, the numbers now are estimated about 1-2% and falling fast. Who would want to remain in a country where your Christian child may be abducted by Islamists and baked in an oven; or, go to church only to be met by bombs and bullets? Let us not forget that the persecution of the Christian peoples of the Middle East is the real scandal of our age. We are, perhaps, in a transitional period (somewhat like the late 1930s) where evil regimes are preparing for another holocaust against various indigenous peoples. Be warned. Remember that Islamists were very strong backers of Hitler and the SS.
Belloc once wrote that "the Faith was Europe and Europe was the Faith". He was dead wrong. He would have been closer, far closer to the mark had he substituted the "Middle East". Yet, he would have been wrong. The Church is a supra-national body, whose only involvement with nations is to purify native culture so that the said nation may be more open to the Gospel. A future post will develop these ideas further.
Please pray for the Christians of the Middle East.